Rising Above PartisanshipBy Rep. Dan Ortiz
August 24, 2018
What I have heard from constituents throughout District 36 in those communications is that they want government to reduce its spending, but also maintain vital services. People want their roads paved, particularly Evergreen road in Wrangell, and South Tongass Hwy in Ketchikan. They want Fish and Game to continue to manage our fisheries resources effectively, and they want our growing senior citizen population to be able be able to access government resources in housing and economic assistance so that they can live their lives with dignity here in Southern S.E. Alaska.
Since the beginning of my service, the State’s fiscal situation has been the primary issue that has faced the legislature. Working in cooperation with the leadership of the Walker Administration, the Legislature has reduced the budget deficit by reducing general fund expenditures by 44% – from $8.3 billion in FY 2013 to $4.3 billion in FY 2017. Twenty-six percent of the reductions were in day to day agency operations. The reductions have come at a cost, resulting in significant cuts to the AK State Fish and Game, DOT, (our roads and the AMHS,) and Senior programs like Pioneer Home Funding.
What I also have heard from constituents is that we must protect our Alaska State Permanent Fund and the People’s Permanent Fund Dividends. That is why if I’m elected to the 2019 Legislature, I pledge to work diligently to constitutionalize the PFD. I pledge to work towards a lower, safer draw on the Earnings Reserve than what is currently called for in SB 26, and for distributing as large of a Permanent Fund Dividend as is fiscally responsible.
Unless oil prices rise significantly from their current level, ($72 per barrel today), it is likely that in order to fully close our fiscal deficit of approximately 700 million dollars and protect the Permanent Fund, the state will have to look at sources of added revenues. If elected, my first choice will be to see if we can get agreement on eliminating, or at least reducing the per barrel oil credit that currently exists in statute, which would result in significant added revenue. I will then support legislation that makes other potential revenue sources as broad based and as non-regressive as possible. Should our fiscal situation improve, I pledge to prioritize reducing the state’s share of the Earning’s Reserve draw.
Thank you for allowing me to serve as your State Representative these past four years, it has been one of the highest honors in my life’s experience.
Rep. Dan Ortiz
Received August 22, 2018 - Published August 24, 2018
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